Yup, it has been a good while since I’ve last posted. I have been and still am incredibly busy but I won’t bore you with the what/where/how. Things will soon unravel in their own time. Meanwhile, I’ve got a stellar recipe for you. It’s inspired by Lebanon, of course, and by my wonderful visits to Abu Kassem, but also from the Food Blogger Connect 2011 goodie bag. The lovely people over at Steenbergs were kind enough to provide us with some za’atar samples and I thought it would be undignified (and un-patriotic) of me, if I did not get more recipes out there, highlighting this wonderfully earthy blend of herbs and spices. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to more plate-lickin’ Middle Eastern grub.
It is incredibly difficult to resist generously smothering these lamb riblets with sweet and sour pomegranate molasses and a dusting of pungent za’atar, before slow cooking them on low heat until they are so tender and moist, they can’t help but slide off the bone. You could throw them on the barbie to sizzle (for the full cooking time) and, if my recollections of a past life in Texas serve me well, then the following equation of barbie + ribs + slow cooking over a smokey fire is bound to have each succulent bite followed by awkward but much welcomed salivating, gnawing and lip smacking. Have I failed to mention finger and plate lickin? You are at liberty, of course, to marinade the ribs for 2 hours and up to overnight or perhaps even a fortnight (Caution-that is just a joke). You may also substitute with pork baby-back ribs which are similar in shape and size.
- 125ml/ 4 fl oz/ ½ cup pomegranate molasses (found in any Middle Eastern specialty shop & Whole Foods)
- 45ml/ 1½ fl oz/ 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp za’atar (found in any Middle Eastern specialty shop & Whole Foods. Also try Steenbergs)
- 2 lamb riblets ( also called breast of lamb, Denver cut, Lamb spare ribs)- between 600g (1 lb 5 oz) to 900g (2 lb) each. 1 lamb riblet/breast contains about 7 ribs and ordered from your butcher. It will serve 1 to 2 people.
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Foil, for wrapping (about 50cm/ 20in in length)
- Heat the oven to 130C/250F/1G
- Mix together the pomegranate molasses, cider vinegar, allspice, cinnamon, garlic and za’atar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Take two sheets of foil, overlap them at their half point and place the ribs in the center, lenghtways, raising the edges of the foil to create an open parcel. Rub the lamb with a little salt and pepper and pour over about ⅓ of the pomegranate sauce, and coat all sides. Bring together the edges of the foil and seal into an airtight parcel. Repeat the same process for the other ribs. Place in a baking dish and cook in the center of the oven for 2 hours.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven, open the parcels and allow the ribs to cool in the juice/marinade.
- Transfer the juice/marinade from each parcel to a saucepan on med/high heat, bring to a boil and reduce to a thick sauce. Stir often.
- Heat a barbecue/grill/ griddle pan until hot, brush the ribs with the reduced sauce and grill until slightly charred.
- Serve immediately with Greek-yoghurt, Arabic bread and tabouleh.